Until my son was born in 2005, I was never aware of the true feeling of love or the innate instinct of protection and survival. I had often heard people in similar situations say “my life is over” or “there goes my future”. Looking into his little blue eyes I realized that this 7 pound baby had given me the wings I needed to fly. Although the situation may not have been ideal to return to school, I knew that I needed to be able to provide for my son to secure a future for us both. Being a single parent was a limitation I would encourage anyone in a similar situation to overcome. The first step in moving forward is to let go of the past. Yes, you may not have a lot of money. Yes, you may not have a lot of support. Yes, you may not have the freedom to do whatever you want. However, now that you are the parent it is vital to accept your role and be responsible for yourself and your child.
There are plenty of resources available to help single parents achieve higher education with minimal cost and sometimes minimal time away from home. Local county agencies are often equipped with on-line resources regarding job opportunities, schools, daycare, and grant monies in your area. For example, if you are a single parent in some counties you can actually get grants from the city, county or state to attend a community college for next to nothing. Also, you can obtain a list of daycare centers in your area. There are many programs through the county and state agencies that offer help paying for daycare costs if you are below a specified income. Recently, it has come to my attention that some Y.M.C.A’s offer child care in blocks of 4 hours for parents who need help once in a while.
On line schools have also become prevalent in the world of education as advertised on the Internet and daytime T.V. These schools can be a Godsend to those of us who have only post-bedtime to accomplish anything for ourselves. To succeed in on-line courses however, you must keep in mind that it is your responsibility to complete the work. In addition, there are a lot of scams out there too. It is best to read and re-read everything on the web-page before choosing an independent on-line institution. Make sure that the education you would be receiving is accredited and can be verified as such. If you are not sure, you can contact the Better Business Bureau. Often I have found that community college admissions representatives can lead you in the right direction of finding a suitable program.
The biggest fear most single parents face is time away from your child. There is always a benefit from you furthering your education: your child’s security. Children who are stressed out may tend to have anxiety, health problems including obesity, and problems functioning in school. As a parent it is also good to remember what kind of example you are setting for your child. By spending a minimal amount of time away from your child you are ensuring that the family can function independent of anyone. You are empowering yourself and your child to become strong, self-sufficient individuals.
When choosing child care always remember your child comes first. Check with the center to be sure all criminal background checks and C.P.R. certifications are current. Find out the rating of the center through your local County Assistance Office. These ratings include past inspection scores, past problems the center may have faced, the child to care-giver ratio and the education levels of each worker. Also, visit the center. Your eyes and ears are your best tools in choosing a daycare. It is always best to arrive unannounced. Ask to meet all the teachers. Look for safety, cleanliness, and separation between age groups. You can even arrive when parents usually come to pick up their children and ask them their experiences. Of course, if you get a bad feeling it may be enough for you to seek another center.
Choosing to go back to school is a big decision for anyone to make. Single parents face more obstacles and may sometimes feel backed into a corner. This cycle can be broken. Every parent understands that what children see in their homes will later be reflected in their own behaviors. If a parent is stressed and struggles, the child will pick up on those feelings and display the same emotions. Maybe right now never seems to be the right time but with a little effort and investigation into the abundant resources available to single parents, right now may be the best time.